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by I Do! Magazine

As wedding preparations get under way, it is easy for everyone to overlook a very important member of the household. Here’s how to make sure your Dad feels included.

The bride is busy picking the caterer, checking out bands with her fiancé, and going to a dress fitting appointment with Mum. So where is your Dad in all these? He may feel like the odd one out. He's dealing with the mixed emotions of his darling daughter becoming a bride, he's not sure of his role in the whole wedding planning thing and he's wondering - how much is all of this going to cost?

Maybe it's time to pay a little extra attention to dear ol' Dad. Here are some ways to make him feel like a player instead of a bystander. So when he walks you down the aisle, he'll truly feel part of your special day.

Time Together: Go out of your way to make time for Dad. You're probably spending a lot of time with Mum these days going to wedding-related appointments, which may be fun for her. But Dad may not like hanging out while you try on gowns. Make some time for him that is not wedding related, but just a chance for you to be together. Let him know that you appreciate him and you value your relationship, and his role in your life at the moment is more than just the guy footing the bill.

Do things together that your Dad likes: Take him to see a film he likes. Go to a football game. Eat at the same restaurants you went to as a kid. In fact, doing things that you loved to do together when you were small is a great way to connect with Dad. If you haven't sat down and really talked in a while, this is a nice time to reacquaint yourself with the man who will be giving you away on wedding day.

Another tip: plan an activity for you, your Dad and your fiancé. If your Dad gets to know your special guy better, he will immediately feel more involved in your big day.

Talk The Talk: So maybe your dad isn't the type to talk about his feelings. You should still share yours. If he is the one paying for most of it, tell him how much it means to you that he's helping you have the wedding of your dreams. Thank him profusely. And then thank him again. Let him know flat out that although you're very busy, he's still important to you. If you have trouble talking the talk, then write the note, leave the voice mail message, send the e-mail. Let him know that you really appreciate him and his support of your wedding.

Communicate: In fact, a running commentary on what's going on with the wedding planning can help Dad feel included. He doesn’t have to come to all the appointments, but it will help him to feel that he’s involved.

Father Knows Best: Maybe Dad wants a bigger role in the planning process. Focus on his interests when consulting him. If he's into classical music, ask him to help you pick the string quartet for your ceremony. Invite him to the caterer with you for a tasting session. If he enjoys wine, let him choose the wine for the reception. Giving Dad his very own job - where you trust his instincts implicitly - is a great way to make him feel part of things and will help alleviate your planning load. Also, don't forget to use your Dad's connections. One bride's Dad had a friend who ran a car company and he was able to get car service for a great discount. Her Dad was proud of arranging the deal.

Stay Out Of Trouble: Avoid pushing buttons by respecting Dad's wishes. If he must have a certain business colleague make the guest list, accommodate him. And don't make the wedding budget a battle zone if he’s the one paying! After several heated arguments about the cost of her dress, and some all-out debates about why she needed a pricey photographer and special hand-made paper for her invitations, one bride realised she needed to back off. She realised that she wasn't going to win. She decided to dip into her own savings to pay for her dream gown and the invitations she loved, and in other areas, to stay within budget. Both the bride and her father were happy.

For You, Dad: It's nice to buy or make your Dad a meaningful gift during the pre-wedding craziness. One bride made a framed collage of photographs of her and her father through the years and presented it to him on wedding day morning. It was a weepy moment for both Dad and daughter.

Some Fatherly Advice: Traditionally, the bride's parents pay for the wedding and in many cases Dad spearheads the cheque-writing for the event. But today, Dad does not always foot the wedding bill. Mum may be equally responsible for the financing, couples pay for the wedding themselves, or the groom's parents pitch in. Despite how the financing is done, it's still essential to make your Dad feel included. So when you're dancing that father/daughter dance at the reception, it will pack emotional punch for your guests, but even more for the two of you.



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